Do you procrastinate? Are you more prone to procrastinate in business matters or on the personal side of life’s ledger?
Do you find yourself incapable of getting a start on a project or some task you need to complete—whether it’s mowing the lawn, washing the car, or working on this month’s financials?
Nothing is more frustrating than having “things” to do, but not having the urge to get them done.
Every one of us, at one time or another, has stalled, delayed, diverted, postponed, or done just about anything else but the very thing we’ve needed to get done. But “Why?”
Is it fear of getting that particular thing done, or not getting it done, or not being able to accomplish the task in front of us? Or do we simply not have a clear “site picture” of what it is we’re trying to or needing to accomplish, hence the delay until we can “see” in our mind’s eye what needs to be done?
While reasons for procrastination are probably a combination of all of the above plus other factors better left to the psychologists to deliberate, I find not having a clear “site picture” often contributes to my dallying. It’s almost like I’m trying to drive somewhere without any idea where the starting point is . . . or my destination.
That said, when I feel myself starting to dawdle, I often engage in a simple exercise designed to give procrastination the boot. I wrote about it in a blog a few years back and here, without further delay, is that blog again. Enjoy!
Procrastination . . . It’s an art form!
Planning Away Procrastination
(Originally posted on September 4, 2013)
It took me at least four attempts to start writing this blog. I kid you not.
It’s not that I didn’t want to write the blog, or that I didn’t have anything to say. (I rarely have nothing to say!) Rather, every time I pressed my finger tips to keyboard, something else seemed to grab my attention: a phone call, checking email one more time, wondering if I should follow-up on ‘X’ before moving on to ‘Y’ . . . and on and on and on.
I was experiencing a case of classic procrastination—you know, putting off doing something for no good reason.
Now, those who know me know that I’m not your typical procrastinator—in fact, I rarely procrastinate. I’m not looking for the adrenaline rush of working under a tight deadline, nor do I harbor a fear of failure or success, nor do I have much trouble making decisions. I’m usually a pretty efficient, nose-to-the-grindstone sort of guy.
The reason for my procrastination today, as most days when procrastination rears its ugly head for me, is shuffling my competing priorities—which do I tackle first, which step should I take to get me closer to my goals today, right now.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or the VP of Marketing for a Fortune 500 firm, chances are you’ve experienced what I’m describing. The good news is the feeling is not permanent, nor symptomatic of some underlying deficiency—and it’s easily fixed.
Establish short- and long-term goals IN WRITING as a way to keep you grounded and locked-in every day, and especially those days when your attention lacks the desired laser-like focus. This could be as simple as creating post-it notes or index cards with “to-do” lists, or you could do like me and create spreadsheets delineating your overall mission, followed by 1 or 2 goals related to that mission, and underlying objectives in support of those goals, with associated time frames for the next 30, 60, 90, 180, or 365 days.
An example might look something like this:
To Build a Better Monkey Barrel
1) Design Monkey Barrel
2) Determine Material Suppliers
3) Manufacture Monkey Barrels
4) Sell Monkey Barrels
1) Design Monkey Barrel by end of 2013 Q4
Within Next 30 Days
- Meet with Engineers
- Select and Engage Engineer
- Develop Schematics
Within Next 60 Days
- Build & Test Prototypes
Within Next 90 Days
- Test with Focus Groups
- Refine and Finalize Design
2) Determine Material Suppliers
Within Next 30 Days
- etc. etc.
Now anytime I find myself procrastinating—in fact, any time at all—I can turn to my trusty spread sheet and it quickly points me to what I should be doing and when.
Having my longer-term goals and objectives laid out in writing makes determining my daily and weekly tasks all that much easier . . . and the more specific, the better. Every morning I can literally ask myself, “What do I need to do today related to my 30-, 60-, 90-, 180-, and 365-day goals?”—or whatever timeframes work best for you—and there it is, right in front of me.
Of course, sometimes my answers change day-to-day. Goals change, as do timeframes and priorities, which means I need to tweak my spreadsheet. Another easy fix: with it all right in front of me, I can adjust accordingly. There’s no need to re-create the wheel or start from scratch, which means a lot less stress and a lot less procrastination.
Quite often, I find the simple act of reviewing my list daily or weekly, or even refining it, gets my brain engaged in what it knows is most important to my success, which is more than enough to help me shake off the procrastination blues.
Granted, you could make this type of process as complicated as you want, but in my book, more isn’t necessarily best. In my mind, tracking goals and objectives should not be a job in and of itself, so the simpler the better.
What do you do to stay on track? What works best for you? Do you find that planning and goal identification helps you avoid procrastination?
Share your experiences here.
Paul June is King Monkey of BARREL O’MONKEYZ, a full-service digital media and marketing group specializing in more creativity, ideas, and fun for active lifestyle consumer products, sports marketing, and brands in San Diego and Southern California.